Freckles or sun damage: Is there a difference?

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Victorian Dermal Group
Victorian Dermal Group
July 31, 2019
minute read

Skin therapy for unwanted freckles, spots or pigmentation?

Ever wondered if the spots on your skin are freckles, sunspots, or other pigmentation? Australians enjoy an enviable outdoor lifestyle, but we also know that UV rays are notoriously damaging to our skin.

Freckles and sunspots (solar lentigo) are two of the common changes we notice after sun exposure and both can affect our confidence. If you’re looking to restore your natural, balanced skin tone, we can assist.

Victorian Dermal Group are leaders in cosmetic skin solutions and offer a range of treatments to remove or fade skin pigmentation, sun damage and the effects of ageing. Book your initial consultation at our clinic in Melbourne.

How are freckles formed?

Freckles are an inherited feature and although not considered sun damage, they do occur as a result of sun exposure. Freckles are typically first noticed on children, especially those with fair skin and red hair.

When UV rays hit your skin, freckles develop from an increase in dark pigments called melanin. This is why freckles are usually more visible on the arms, face and other areas, that are more often exposed to the sun.

Although you may find unevenly pigmented skin undesirable, freckles themselves are actually quite impressive. Freckles are the skin’s natural way, of trying to protect us from harmful UV rays. So, given the above information, it's safe to say freckles are not sun damage.

What are sun damage spots?

Woman worrying about sun spots

Spots caused by sun damage are known as sunspots (solar lentigo). They also go by other names such as ‘age spots’ or ‘liver spots’. In contrast to freckles, they are common in people over the age of 40, but they can affect younger people too. Sunspots occur when UV radiation causes pigmented cells in the skin to multiply.

Sunspots tend to increase in number as we age, particularly with chronic sun exposure. They are common for people of all skin types and mainly affect areas of the body like the face, hands, arms and shoulders.

Do freckles and sun damage spots look different?

Freckles are generally smaller in size than sunspots and vary in shade from red to brown. They often become more noticeable in the summer and fade or disappear when not exposed to sun. Freckles are also known to fade with age.

Sunspots are flat areas of discolouration or spots, that can be tan or varying shades of brown. In comparison to freckles, sunspots are usually darker, larger and have a more defined shape. Sunspots also tend to stay this way regardless of the amount of sun exposure.

Should I be worried about freckles and sun damage spots?

Freckles are not considered to be harmful to your health, but are still an important signal you may have spent excess time in the sun. Sunspots (solar lentigo) generally don’t pose a threat to your health either. However, their presence can indicate chronic exposure to UV light, which is a risk factor for melanoma.

In Australia where the sun is especially harsh, it’s important to keep track of any changes to your skin including freckles and sunspots. For spots that grow quickly, change in appearance or seem unusual, consult your doctor immediately.

How else does the sun affect my skin’s surface?

Monitoring freckles and sunspots should also involve keeping an eye out for other skin changes too. Sun exposure affects the skin in a myriad of ways, including:

  • Wrinkles
  • Skin sagging
  • Melasma
  • Moles

Some of these changes to our skin are inevitable with our natural ageing process, but excess UV rays can accelerate them.

While prevention and protection in this regard is important, such as daily application of a high-quality sunscreen, treatment for such conditions can also be very effective. The Victoria Dermal Group has further information on sun damage and anti-ageing treatments.

Benefits of cosmetic skin care for sun affected skin

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At Victorian Dermal Group our experts in cosmetic skin care work with the latest in laser technology to repair and reverse damaged or pigmented skin. The benefits of skin therapy are to regain a clearer and more youthful appearance, especially if excess sun has left your skin flawed.

At our Melbourne skin clinic we offer:

  • Initial consultation – during your one-on-one skin consultation, we conduct a personalised skin analysis using Diagnostic Imaging Technology
  • Expert advice – Our skin specialists advise on a wide spectrum of skin conditions including: freckles, sunspots, melasma, age related skin conditions, acne, rosacea, scarring and pigmentation
  • Cutting edge treatment – Our treatments include the latest in laser technology to reduce and remove different forms of pigmentation or discolouration
  • Excellent results – Our treatment is personalised and we are dedicated to achieving the best possible results. To view some ‘before and after’ shots from our pigmentation treatment check out our website.

If you are frustrated with your freckles, sunspots or pigmented skin and curious about your options, we’d love to hear from you. Our team of highly trained skin specialists will provide you with tailored advice and exceptional, results focused treatment.

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